Saturday, 20 April 2013

Review: Doctor Who 7.9: Hide

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Emma makes a portal to the pocket universe.
Neil Cross's last story, the Rings of Akhaten, was one that filled me with an abject joy and warmth. Considering that in his own terms Rings was something of a difficult second album, I was very much looking forward to Hide, his first written story for the show and the one that won him a second go. And, while the episode's spooky theme felt a tad out of place in the middle of springtime, I was most certainly not disappointed. Hide continues a string of hits for the show that I haven't felt since Moffat's first season.
     Landing in 1974, the Doctor and Clara investigate a house in the country owned by Professor Alec Palme (Dougray Scott) and his empath "assistant" (read: lots of UST) Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine, Call The Midwife.) The two have been looking into reports of a ghost at the house that only Emma, with her abilities, can feel. Intrigued, the Doctor takes a look at the house throughout all of recorded time, scarring Clara with knowledge of the Earth's destruction in the process, and proceeds to gather a series of photographs showing a woman running away from something. He explains to Alec and Emma that the woman in the house is in fact a time traveller trapped in an pocket universe echoing into our own. The Doctor pops through to save her but he gets trapped, forcing Clara to battle with the Tardis in order to go in and rescue him.
    It was an episode with so much that I just loved. The fun sci-fi explanation for a ghost felt very similar to Neil Cross' previous rationalist Doctor Who in Rings, and formed a solid backbone to the episode that also allowed him to work in all manner of references to Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee. I also loved the backstory between our two guest stars, which was immediately fun and identifiable. Scott and Raine are perhaps two of my favourite guest stars since... well, the last ones that I said were my favourite. I can't really remember.
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The Doctor sees the "ghost" at the Earth's beginnings.
      I keep worrying that Clara isn't being developed enough, but I needn't really do so. More so I feel than Moffat, Cross has made Clara his baby and it shines through in her scenes in the episode. She and the TARDIS have a visible animosity that I find quite intriguing, with Cross really playing up the idea of the box's sentience having a larger role by using Moffat's "voice interface" for some serious blue box snark. I actually like that the mystery Moffat initially defined the character with has been turned into something much more subtle, allowing Clara's personality to shine through.
     Neil Cross is just a genius, really, and in an ideal world he'd be lining up to take over the show. I know he has Luther, but that's always a four-episode deal and if Moffat and Gattis can write Sherlock then Cross can balance two shows as well. His themes and ideas, taking a focus both on the inherant value in reality and scientific principles and then also in the value of human relationships. It's clever and fun and... eugh, I just love it so much.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: We Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS.

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